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How the Paperback Book Transformed American Culture

By Abigail Wheetley. Jul 30, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book History, Science Fiction

The paperback has been around since the Civil War, but it wasn’t until steam-powered printing presses and the growing technology that impacted the ability to produce, transport, and sell cheaper versions of heavier hardbacked bound volumes that the paperback truly began to impact the way Americans read and how they viewed the world. With the opportunity to read more, write more, and experience direct variety in our reading habits, the paperback caused a small revolution. To witness it, you’d only have to look as far as the new revolving book stands at the local drug store.

     
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Mixed Reviews of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring

By Andrea Diamond. Jul 29, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: J. R. R. Tolkien

As a community of readers and writers, we are all too familiar with the sentiments of Bilbo Baggins. “Look, I know you doubt me, I know you always have. And you're right. I often think of Bag End. I miss my books. And my armchair. And my garden. See, that's where I belong. That's home…” We are a people torn between reading about adventures, and creating one of our ownrising from the safety of our armchairs to take on the persona of the heroes and heroines we’ve grown to know and love. Of course, leaving our comfort zones always comes with a risk: the risk that our pursuits will not go as planned, and that we will face doubt, rejection, and failure.

     
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Little Known Facts About Beatrix Potter

By Adrienne Rivera. Jul 28, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Children's Books

Beatrix Potter is best known for her charming children's books filled with her own illustrations of the animals that inhabit them. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, has delighted children for years with its story of naughty young rabbit Peter defying his mother's rules and slipping under the gate in Mr. McGregor's garden to eat vegetables rather than going with his sisters to gather blackberries down the lane. Her books featuring such delightful characters as Tom Kitten, Squirrel Nutkin, and Peter's cousin Benjamin Bunny are in print today and can be found in nurseries and libraries across the world. While Potter's books, including The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck and Wag-by-Wall, have made her into a household name, she was a fascinating woman about whom many details are not as widely known.

     
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The Big Apple: Four New York City Writers You Should Be Reading

By Nick Ostdick. Jul 27, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Pulitzer Prize, Literary travel

In the pantheon of American arts and letters, few cities loom larger than New York City. The center of American publishing since the earliest days of the enterprise, New York City has, at one time or another, played host to a number of the country’s most daring, innovative, and influential authors. Entire literary scenes and schools have emerged, developed, and faded in the city’s numerous boroughs. Some of the most infamous relationships between writers have been forged in the city’s storied cafes and bars. It’s the one place in America where the literati congregate: where the aspiring bring their stories to see if the world is ready to listen.

With such a rich tradition of the written word, it’s would be easy to celebrate the authors who journeyed to NYC to stake their claim as the best writers in America. John Cheever. John Updike. J.D. Salinger. These are the names that spring to mind when you think of NYC as hallowed halls for great American authors.

     
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George Bernard Shaw: The Art of Quotation

By Matt Reimann. Jul 26, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Nobel Prize Winners, Drama

Good booze, beautiful scenery, and wit are the very things Ireland is perhaps known best for. The country’s long history of strife and oppression has given its people a talent for insight and humor. An analysis of the sharpest wits in the English language reveal a lopsided representation of Ireland, with a stacked roster represented by the likes of Swift, Sterne, Wilde, and Behan. And strong as they may be, such a list would be incomplete without the inclusion of playwright and Nobel Prize-winner George Bernard Shaw.

     
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The History of the Pulps

By Brian Hoey. Jul 23, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Mystery, Suspense & Crime

One of the less-remembered truths about the world of books is that, for much of their history, books were expensive. Even in the eighteenth century, owning more than a few books was a marker of middle class status. This fact, of course, did nothing to negate the desire that exists within almost everyone to be taken in by stories. As such, the nineteenth century saw a rise in deliberate attempts to produce inexpensive reading material, the most memorable of which efforts took the forms of the penny dreadful and the dime novel. Cheaply produced on low quality paper, these alternatives to more expensive reading material eventually became synonymous with sensational, low brow, and often lurid storytelling: all mantels that would come to be taken up by the pulps.

     
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The Legend of the Pied Piper

By Andrea Diamond. Jul 22, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

Deep within the children’s section of the local library, is an old dusty copy of classic fairytales. Behind the faded cover lives stories of heroism, nobility, and true love; stories that eagerly fill the minds of young dreamers everywhere. However, dwelling amongst the “once upon a times” and “happily ever afters” is a far more sinister tale of rat infestation, broken promises, and the disappearance of an entire city’s children.

     
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The Top Five Children’s Libraries From Around the World

By Abigail Wheetley. Jul 21, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Libraries & Special Collections

Libraries are not just for adults, and they are a wonderfully international experience. Go anywhere in the world and you’ll find a place to gain access, have fun, and get an education. These are five of our favorite children's libraries from around the world.      
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In Praise of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian

By Matt Reimann. Jul 20, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Pulitzer Prize, American Literature

In recent years, a string of successful film adaptations has brought the work of Cormac McCarthy into a wide, national spotlight. But to many of his dedicated readers, the crowning achievement of the author’s fifty-year career is his 1985 novel, Blood Meridian. The story concerns a band of Indian scalpers, circa 1850, and their campaign along the Mexican-American border. The novel’s vision, severely violent and infernal, has put many readers off, but galvanized all the more.

     
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Collecting Indigenous Sámi Literature

By Audrey Golden. Jul 19, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Literature, Literary travel

If you’ve read anything about Sámi culture or literature recently, it may have been through Vendela Vida’s novel Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name: A Novel (2007). While many works of indigenous literature have received international acclaim over the last century, Sámi fiction and poetry has remained relatively obscured from global readership. In case you’re not familiar with Sámi history or culture, we can give you a brief background. The Sámi are an indigenous group with geographic ties to the Arctic regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia.

According to a presentation before UNESCO and the Nordic World Heritage Foundation, the Sámi are the only officially recognized indigenous group in the Nordic countries. While many do speak and write in Sámi language, many of these indigenous novelists and poets have published works written in Norwegian, Swedish, and other Nordic languages. There are relatively few Sámi writers whose works have been translated into English, but we’d love to encourage you to begin collecting their books.

     
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How Theodor Geisel Became Dr. Seuss

By Matt Reimann. Jul 16, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

Theodor Geisel, known today as Dr. Seuss, was a student of English literature in his youth. While attending Oxford to get a Ph.D. in the 1920s, his future-wife persuaded him to pursue his dreams as a writer and illustrator. He returned home to the United States, with little experience other than a stint as editor of Dartmouth’s humor magazine, the Jack-O-Lantern. He submitted pieces to publishers and periodicals. It was a long slog, but he eventually made his debut with a cartoon in the July 16, 1927 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. His pay was $25—enough encouragement for the young cartoonist to move to New York to take his dreams seriously.

     
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Five Interesting Facts About Clive Cussler

By Brian Hoey. Jul 15, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Mystery, Suspense & Crime

While not necessarily as well known as Tom Clancy or Michael Crichton, Clive Cussler has for many years been one of the acknowledged masters of techno-fiction, a genre that blends science fiction, spy novels, and adventure stories. While someone like Crichton has become renowned for the realism and meticulous attention to detail that characterizes his works, Clive Cussler has made a name for himself over the course of more than 70 books by emphasizing the sort of swashbuckling, credulity-defying adventure that can be traced back to Robert Louis Stevenson and others. Here are five interesting facts about him.

     
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Collecting Nobel Laureates: Isaac Bashevis Singer

By Leah Dobrinska. Jul 14, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Nobel Prize Winners

Today, we'd like to discuss some collecting points for Polish-born author and Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer. Singer was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978 “for his impassioned narrative art which, with roots in a Polish-Jewish cultural tradition, brings universal human conditions to life". In Singer’s writing we see interesting and compelling family dynamics as well as religious influences, demons, and the supernatural. The morality at work (or not at work) in his novels and short stories was often under scrutiny. However, Singer is unarguably one of the most prominent and valuable voices to come out of Poland. As such, his works are highly collectible.

     
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Political Playwright: Wole Soyinka

By Adrienne Rivera. Jul 13, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Nobel Prize Winners

In 1986, Wole Soyinka became the first African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Soyinka's legacy is bound up in the numerous plays, novels, short stories, essays, memoirs, movies, and translations which he has authored. And throughout his life, he has served as a spokesman against apartheid and government corruption. He has won numerous other awards for his work, including the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award, and the Agip Prize for Literature, and he has taught at many prestigious universities including Emory University, Harvard, and Obafemi Awolowo University.

     
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VLOG: The Art of Wood Engraving and Printing

By Leah Dobrinska. Jul 12, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Fine Press, Book Making

Wood engraving is perhaps one of the most amazing art forms known to man. Often, wood engravings are found in older collectible books as well as in modern-day fine press books. But unfortunately, the art form can often be missed in the more mainstream world of book collecting and art. Today we'd like to change that by sharing a collection of videos about the wood engraving process.

     
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Busy as He May Be, Dean Koontz Cares About His Collectors

By Matt Reimann. Jul 9, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Mystery, Suspense & Crime

Even if you’ve never read Dean Koontz’s books, you’ve certainly seen them around. Whether in airports, used bookshops, or your aunt’s living room, the work of Koontz litters shelves and stands all over the world. It makes sense, too. At age 70, Dean Koontz has placed himself among the top twenty best-selling authors of all time, with more books in circulation than either Stephen King or James Patterson.

     
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Nothing But Land: A Literary Tour of the Great Plains

“A place where there was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the materials out of which countries were made.”

A bleak sentiment, yes, but perhaps one that has been the basis for some of the most stark, intimate, and revealing writing in the American literary tradition. Taken from the mind of Jim Burden, the central character in Willa Cather’s masterpiece novel, My Antonia (1918), this moment expresses a place where imagination, creativity, and fortitude are not merely boons to intellectual survival: they’re essential. But perhaps it makes sense that these aforementioned qualities are also often found in the lives and stories of some of America’s most famous authors.

     
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The Bond Dossier: Diamonds Are Forever

By Nick Ostdick. Jul 7, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book History, James Bond

With any series of novels, there comes a pivot pointa moment when the author decides to move away from familiar themes and tropes in the hopes of breaking new ground for his characters and worlds, exploring previously untapped themes and ideas in an effort to create greater depth and complexity for his readers. One could argue Ian Fleming’s fourth James Bond novel, Diamonds Are Forever, is just such a pivot point.

     
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Collecting Art Books

By Leah Dobrinska. Jul 6, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Literature

Today, we’d like to tackle the topic of collecting art books. Before we begin, it’s necessary to define what exactly “collecting art books” means. In fact, it can mean different things to different people, and this blog post certainly won’t be an all-inclusive list. For the sake of this post, we’ll discuss four variations on the collecting art book's theme. First, we’ll focus on collecting books of artists’ art work. Second, we’ll document some great books about art, from its history to key players in the art scene, both past and present. Then, we’ll shift our attention to collecting books by famous illustrators; such books are magnificent in their own right. Finally, we’ll discuss books as art and the art of fine press books. Read on for tips to get started with or continue your own art books collection.

     
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How the Founding Fathers Help Us Understand Ourselves

By Matt Reimann. Jul 4, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Biographies

The term “Founding Fathers” was coined by a speechwriter named Judson Welliver. He wrote under the administration of Warren G. Harding, who said the phrase nearly a century after the last of that group perishedthe fourth president James Madison, who died in the year 1836. Yet even before they had a collective name, the legacies of the founders were constantly being reinterpreted.

     
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Nine Fascinating Facts about Franz Kafka

By Brian Hoey. Jul 3, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature

Even today, Franz Kafka remains one of the most celebrated practitioners of absurdism that the world of letters has ever known. Born to an Austrian Jewish family around the turn of the 20th Century, Kafka spent most of his life working in obscurity, paying the bills with an insurance job that he reportedly loathed, only to gain a huge audience after his death on the strength of such classics as The Trial (1925) and The Metamorphosis (1915). Here are some interesting facts about him.

     
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Elie Wiesel: Reluctant Writer and Collectible Nobel Laureate is Dead

By Katie Behrens. Jul 2, 2016. 6:08 PM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Nobel Prize Winners

Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel passed away on July 2, 2016. Wiesel was born in Sighet, Romania in 1928, and is best known for his voice as a Holocaust survivor and advocate for peace. Wiesel’s family was separated during World War II when the German army deported their Jewish community of Sighet to Auschwitz-Birkenau. His father died just weeks before the camp was liberated by American troops in 1945. After the war, Wiesel was reunited with two of his three sisters in France; his mother and youngest sister did not survive.

     
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Collecting Nobel Laureates: Eugenio Montale & Dario Fo

By Leah Dobrinska. Jul 1, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Nobel Prize Winners

Collecting the works of Nobel laureates makes sense. There’s a definable list of winners. The winners are the best-of-the-best. And, your collection can span titles from authors the world over. Or, if you prefer, it can be focused on a specific genre, idea, or region. If you’re interested in Italian Nobel Prize in Literature winners—in total, six individuals from Italy have been awarded the Prize—today we spotlight the most recent winners: Eugenio Montale and Dario Fo. For more information on our previous Italian Nobel Prize in Literature winner spotlights, see the end of the post.

     
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About this blog

How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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